Plant Skeletons Decompose

290 million years
or 71 meters to today

Geolo­gi­cal era: Paleo­zoic / Permian

Some fungi deve­lop the ability to break down lignin. Volca­nic erup­ti­ons, exten­sive coal fires and decom­po­si­tion of lignin reduce the oxygen and incre­ase the carbon dioxide content of the atmo­s­phere. Oceans become more acidic. There is a rapid rise in tempe­ra­ture (green­house effect). The fourth mass extinc­tion takes place. It is the largest in the history of the earth. 95% of marine life and 75% of land orga­nisms disap­pear. With the Permian, the era of the Paleo­zoic ends and the Meso­zoic begins.

The climate beco­mes drier and more conti­nen­tal. It beco­mes warmer, the glaciers above the South Pole melt, the sea level rises again. This happens in great fluc­tua­tions; the conti­nents are repeatedly floo­ded and fall dry again. This crea­tes the large salt depo­sits.

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